Review of Apple's Seybold keynote

Today Apple CEO Steve Jobs officially announced that Mac OS X 10.1 would be available this Saturday during the Apple keynote address at Seybold San Francisco. "Now is the time to upgrade," said Jobs, "this is the mainstream release."

Jobs continued with the clock metaphor, saying that Mac OS X's original release was noon, and that we are now at six o'clock. He ended his part by saying that he has been impressed with the speed of Apple's OS division's development of Mac OS X 10.1. "Most programmers go on vacation after a major release," said Jobs, "but Avie Tevanian and his team have kept working to improve Mac OS X." Jobs said that Mac OS X already has one major update before Windows XP even ships.

Jobs turned the keynote over to Apple's Vice President of Marketing Phil Schiller, saying that he had rehearsed the address and deserved to give the bulk of the keynote. Schiller went into depth about 10.1. The high points are vastly improved performance for all Mac systems running 10.1 over X, an improved Aqua interface that includes the ability to move the dock to the left or right hand sides of the screen and full DVD support.

Schiller began by reviewing Mac OS X's development goals. He said that Mac OS X is the Macintosh OS for the future -- at least fifteen years or more. Mac OS X was to combine the power of UNIX with the ease of use of the Mac. Mac OS X is to embrace open standards, not just use a few of them. Mac OS X is to be the ultimate engine for the digital hub -- Apple's belief that all digital consumer devices should work seamlessly with the Mac. Mac OS X must have stunning graphics and seamless mobility. Mac OS X must be a global citizen -- different languages are simply preferences, and many languages can be used in apps or documents. There must be a gentle migration to Mac OS X from the Classic Mac OS. And finally, Mac OS X must enable killer apps for the Macintosh.

"Mac OS X 10.1 is code-named 'Puma,' because it is one fast cat," began Schiller as he demonstrated 10.1. Schiller said that application launching has been sped up two to three times over the original release. In the demo, most apps launched before one hop of the icon in the dock and the menus in Aqua run five times faster than before. Schiller demonstrated what looked like very zippy window resizing as well.

Boot and login time is faster in 10.1, as well as Java, OpenGL and file copying, said Schiller, although these items were not demonstrated.

Apple also enhanced the Aqua interface. The first feature demonstrated was a new moveable dock. While users still have the preference to have the dock on the bottom, they can also select to have the dock run vertically down the left or right side of the desktop.

Apple also added system status icons on the menu bar just to the left of the clock. Users can click on these to control basic system functions like Internet connections or managing the battery of a PowerBook.

Mac OS X 10.1 now automatically hides and exposes the three letter file extensions that many other operating systems typically use. When working on your Mac or with another Mac, users do not see the file extensions. However, if a user of another system that needs those extensions connects to that Mac, they will see all the necessary file extensions.

Finally, Mac OS X 10.1 added login user lists and has a much simplified system preferences pane, with similar items of system control grouped together in the pane.

In terms of graphics beyond speed enhancements, Mac OS X 10.1 takes full advantage of the latest PDF version 1.3 with features like 128-bit encryption already adopted from the upcoming 1.4 PDF specification.

Mac OS X 10.1 has strongly enhanced printer support, with LaserWriter 8, over 200 PPMs and almost all USB printers now supported. Specific features of most printers are now supported too, and users can save individual custom settings for printers.

Application icons in the dock can now be used to control specific applications. For example, a user can now control iTunes without the actual application running by clicking and holding the iTunes dock icon and selecting a command from the menu that pops up. Ken Bereskin, Director of Mac OS Product Marketing, said that this is an API that Apple provides to developers, and that any application that wishes dock control can easily add it.

Mike Evangelist, Apple Product Marketing, demonstrated iDVD2, which will ship in November. iDVD2 adds powerful motion features to DVD creation. For example, a user can have clips play in their windows in the DVD menu. Additionally, the background of that larger menu can be a movie. Apple will provide a number of custom themes for iDVD2, but users can also create their own.

Evangelist then showed a trailer of the upcoming Disney-Pixar film Monsters, Inc.

Mac OS X 10.1 adds fully integrated ColorSync 4. It has automatic monitor detection, and users can embed color profiles to any files created within 10.1. Also, users can add profiles to media downloaded to the Mac, say from a digital camera. Additionally, users can strip profiles if desired. Finally, basic apps like Preview and Mail support ColorSync, and will display images properly. One of the benefits of this is that users can email images and be sure of proper color management within Mac OS X 10.1.

Apple also enhanced AppleScript within 10.1, now allowing scripts to be added to the toolbar and making them available in every folder within 10.1.

Apple is also working on AppleScript Studio, which will be available by the end of the year. Studio combines AppleScript with Apple's IDE (Integrated Development Environment) tools Project Builder and Interface Builder. "This makes AppleScript a peer language with Java and Objective C," said Sal Soghoian, Apple's AppleScript guru.

This combination will give scripters a tool to create professional level scripts that can take advantage of everything AppleScript offers and provides end-users an Aqua interface to run the script. Soghoian demonstrated a complex script, built with AppleScript Studio, where the script pulled data from FileMaker Pro and IMedia and placed the data into InDesign, creating a shake and bake real-estate catalog. "Now is the time for scripting on Apple," said Soghoian to rapt applause.

Schiller ended the keynote with presentations of Alias|Wavefront's Maya, Adobe InDesign and NewTek's Lightwave 3D 7.0 on Mac OS X 10.1. All of the executives showcased expressed their enthusiasm and support for the new operating system.

This story, "Review of Apple's Seybold keynote" was originally published by PCWorld.

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